17th annual Mardi Gras celebration

The 17th annual Williamsport Mardi Gras celebration will be held Feb. 8 and 9 downtown. Various participating establishments will provide music, specials, festive food, fundraisers and other entertainment throughout the weekend.

All local businesses participating in the festivities also enter their representative for Mardi Gras King or Queen, who will be crowned on Feb. 9, following a parade down Fourth Street. After the crowning, there will be a fireworks display in the area of City Hall.

Participating establishments include the Genetti Hotel and 4th Street Grille and Ale House, Barrel 135, the Brickyard, the Bullfrog Brewery, Franco’s Lounge, Imbibe, the Old Corner Hotel, Rumrunners, the Cell Block, the Planet, Scandals and Morrone’s Pub.

John Hardy, a psychology senior at Lycoming College will perform at 10 p.m. Feb. 8 at Morrone’s Pub during the Mardi Gras festivities.

This will be Hardy’s first performance at Morrone’s Pub and he said it will be a different type of experience for him to play during Mardi Gras, as opposed to his usual college campus or coffee house performances.

Hardy said his campus performances normally are smaller, with many of his own friends in the audience, but he knows Mardi Gras weekend will bring a larger crowd and is excited for the opportunity to play for more people.

“I like going up there and having a lot of fun with it,” Hardy said. “You’ll see a lot of performers nervous and serious, I just like to have a lot of fun with it. I have no problem with poking fun at myself if I mess up. I find it relaxing and go up there and have fun and let it roll.”

Hardy said he began playing music in high school, starting off on drums and then realizing that he wasn’t very good at that. He then picked up a guitar and found that instrument came much more naturally to him. He sings and also likes to throw a harmonica into the mix from time to time.

“I just kind of was looking for something to do and thought, what can I start doing that I think I could be good at,” he said. “I was playing sports, but I loved listening to music and thought, ‘Why not play my own?’ “

He started off playing a lot of cover songs when he began performing, but has begun to dabble in writing originals and likes to play a little bit of both types of songs in his sets.

“I’ve got a kind of acoustic pop-punk sound,” Hardy said. “I don’t have a band, so I can’t classify myself into any kind of genre.”

Hardy said his main musical influence is Blink 182 and also is inspired by the Wonder Years, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and John Mayer.

He said he’s not expecting to become a famous musician, but plans to continue to play music for fun because it’s what he loves to do.

“I’m never going to stop,” Hardy said. “It will be tough to do when I’m out in the world doing big person things, but I have no reason to stop.”

Mardi Gras events

Mardi Gras 2013 will be held Feb. 8 and 9 downtown and will include a parade, fireworks, a gumbo cookoff, free trolley rides and more.

The parade will begin at 6 p.m. Feb. 9 on West Fourth Street.

The River Valley Transit’s free trolley rides begin at 9 p.m. both days and make stops every 10 minutes until 2 a.m.

Here’s a list of the participating venues and their scheduled events:

Genetti Hotel

Live music by Keith Randall from 6 to 9 p.m. and Miz Ida and the All-Nightas from 9 p.m. to midnight both nights. No cover charge until 8 p.m.

Queen candidate: Bethany Sullinger Charity: Ronald McDonald House.

Barrel 135

Mal Scoppa and Jon Shively will perform from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Feb. 8.

Feb. 9 music TBA.

King candidate: Justin Hilton, who passed away Jan. 7 due to cancer. Charity: K’s for Cancer.

Two gumbos featured Saturday night, one by Barrel 135, one by Susquehanna Bank.

The Brickyard

Kick-off Mardi Gras Weekend Party Feb. 7.

Keystone Ska Exchange to perform from 9 p.m. to midnight Feb. 8.

Feb. 9 entertainment TBA.

Three gumbos featured Feb. 9, one by The Brickyard, one by M&T Band and 2011 winners Mi Swaco.

Bullfrog Brewery

Bombadil from Durham, N.C., will perform from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Feb. 8.

The Alterations will perform from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Feb. 9. The Ameros from Albany, N.Y., will perform from 10 p.m. to 1 am., also Feb. 9.

Queen candidate: Jenna Evilhair. Charity: Big Brothers Big Sisters.

No cover charge for either night.

Franco’s Lounge

King candidate: Aaron Harris. Charity: Franco’s Culinary Arts Scholarship Fund.

Morrone’s Pub

Live Music by Jon Hardy at 10 p.m. Feb. 8.

Serving jumbalaya all weekend.

The Old Corner

Zac Baggett and Isaiah Britton from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Feb. 8.

Dylan and Maverick from 7 to 10 p.m. Feb. 9. Clouds Make Sounds 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., also Feb. 9.

Queen candidate: Ady Smith Dorsett. Charity: Haydens Heart Inc.

The Cell Block

Gypsy Wisdom Feb. 8. No cover.

Generation Next Feb. 9.

Gumbo cookoff Feb. 9.

King candidate: Matt Churico. Charity: Breast Cancer Awareness.

Mardi Gras with The Alterations

On Feb. 9, during Mardi Gras, Williamsport’s alternative folk-rock duo The Alterations will open for The Ameros from Albany, N.Y., at the Bullfrog Brewery, 229 West Fourth St. The Ameros are a rock, reggae, hip-hop and funk powerhouse that combine thought-provoking lyrics, incendiary guitar, party vibes and solid harmonies into a musical revolution.

Their debut album, “Backs Against the Wall” was picked as one of the best of 2011 by the Daily Gazette in Schenectady. I Am Entertainment Magazine gave it 4 out of 4 stars for songwriting and a 3.5 out of 4 overall rating.

The Alterations are composed of local songstress Val LaCerra (Key of V) and drummer John Nicholson, incorporating quirky and often haunting lyrics, guitar, piano, catch-all beats and alternative renditions of favorites by Nirvana, Radiohead and David Bowie.

In a live show, they may play in multiple genres, including folk, rock and even a tinge of cabaret. Nicholson’s organic approach to drumming duly accommodates LaCerra’s equally liberal vocals, which have been compared to everything from Marlene Dietrich to Kate Bush. The Alterations will start the show at 8 p.m., with the Ameros following at 10 p.m. For more information, visit thealterations.net or www.bullfrogbrewery.com.